Some states in the US have legalised Marijuana and Canada has followed suit. There are campaigners in the UK to legalise it here too. Of course, one potential reason for the government to consider this is that they could post a heavy duty on the substance, but what are the main disadvantages cited for legalised Marijuana. And do they have any traction?
It’s a strong drug
While marijuana has a reputation for being a very weak drug that isn’t actually the case. In fact, it seems that it gets a stronger year on year. The reason for this is the active ingredients in the drug. In its the unaltered form it contains two substances, THC and CBD. THC is a strong hallucinogenic which can lead to psychosis (which isn’t good!) But then CBD is found to be an antipsychotic which would usually balance out the effects of the THC
Unfortunately, the drug is regularly strengthened with strains being cultivated with higher THC levels and lower CBD levels. The result of this is a more potent strains that, at least, in theory, could promote psychosis. However, studies show that despite the massive increase in users of Marijuana there has been no increase in conditions such as schizophrenia. It would appear that the most at risk from weed-related psychosis are the people who would already be vulnerable to psychosis.
There are some that believe that the reason the drug is being strengthened is due to the fact it is illegal, and so legalising it would negate the risks of psychosis, but more on that later.
It’s a gateway drug
It is fair to say that most people who are addicted to drugs usually started on a gateway substance. Something that provided them with a buzz that they became addicted to. The very nature of substance abuse means that it usually affects people with mental health issues or that had a troubled childhood, or often those that have endured trauma. The substances usually give them a way to take their mind away from their problems but then the drug itself provides further problems.
But being so widely popular is it the most dangerous gateway drug? Studies would suggest otherwise. While a study showed that 45% of people who tried marijuana before the age of 15 went on to try harder drugs, it was by no means the biggest gateway drug. That would be the cigarette. People who smoked cigarettes before the age of 15 were a massive 80% more likely to use other drugs. They were also far more likely to binge drink.
On the subject of drink, it is quite the gateway drug in its own right. With people who binge drink in their teens seven times more likely to try marijuana and seven times more likely to try harder drugs such as heroin and cocaine
It’s unhealthy and addictive
It is addictive. That is a fair point. The addictive level is related to the THC levels. Many argue that these are high because it is illegal. Dealers find that it is more viable to import smaller, but stronger products as they can charge the same and there are fewer risks of them getting caught. Of course, if it was legal the government could regulate things such as the THC levels to negate negative effects. Perversely the health effects of the drug are hard to study because it is illegal, although opinions of the effects on health vary from source to source.
The Portugal approach
In Portugal, they had real drug issues and took a radical approach of legalising all drugs and treating people with drug addiction as people with health issues rather than as criminals and it saw a massive reduction in usage rates and drug-related medical conditions such as HIV.